As startup founders, we are psychologically wired to reject routines. I frequently find that inexperience founders typically associate routines with the stability and lack of excitement of corporate jobs and one of those elements that doesn’t have a good fit in a startup culture. In an almost addictive behavior, startup teams welcome change, unexpected challenges and a company style that makes the unexpected parts of the daily lifestyle. Even though embracing change is one of the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, we should be very aware that constant changes are one of the recipes for a guarantee failure of a company.
When you are executing to long term strategies such as shipping a product, establishing a customer pipeline or implementing strategic partnerships, establishing a work routine can become one of best allies. Allocating periodic amounts of times over days or weeks to focus on specific problems is one of the best recipes to getting things done. Routines help us to establish the necessary discipline and focus that is so necessary when tackling long terms problems. With the traditional chaos and constant changes surrounding startups environments, it’s very important that you establish your own routines. In order to effectively do so, you should be very clear that work routines are about discipline and focus and has little to do with being organized.
Organization is about setting structural elements and processes around specific tasks. On the other hand, discipline and focus is about systematic effort and organized thinking. While being organized can certainly help people to execute on certain tasks, organization is not a direct indication of discipline and focus.
Since my school years, I discovered that I am extremely disciplined and focused but not very organized. At Tellago Studios, when I am not traveling, I tried to stick to different routines around different areas of the company. Each day, I try to allocate a discrete amount of time to work on our different products, strategic alliances, customer pipeline, talking to the team, customers, etc.. During the early evenings I devote some time to think about strategic problems, play with new technologies, write, etc. Sometimes that routine gets disrupted by unexpected circumstances but I try to stay as disciplined as I can. Now I couldn’t tell you I am very organized on my work routines and, sometimes, I end up frustrating some of my more organized colleagues J.
As a startup founder, my best advice is that you establish your open routines and stay disciplined to execute on it. Sometimes, we get way too addicted to the action and change of the startup world and forget that the most important decisions require systematic effort and a calmed and logic thinking process.